Red Letters

November 24th, 2010

A guest post by BFA Theatre Production and Design student Ling Zhong

As a 3rd year student with Theatre at UBC, I was really looking for an opportunity to find work experience outside of UBC that would help me further my studies in theatre. I found out about volunteer opportunities with the Vancouver Asian Canadian Theatre through UBC Careers Services.

As I’m Chinese, I really wanted to help an organization that allows me to work with other Asians and put on different types of productions. VACT puts on plays, musicals, comedy events, and much more. Their mandate is to showcase Asian-Canadian talent in artistically significant roles, and to engage mainstream audiences with Asian-Canadian stories and cultural themes.

I am currently volunteering on ‘VACT’s’ marketing team for its first original musical production, Red Letters. Red Letters is an original Canadian musical written by Alan Bau and Kathy Leung with music and lyrics composed by Alan Bau. Set in 1920s Vancouver, it is the moving story of Shen, an immigrant from China who leaves his wife Mei to come to Canada seeking his fortune.

Once established, he hopes to bring her over to join him. With the enactment of the $500 head tax and the Exclusion Act in 1923, the promise of Gold Mountain is betrayed. Harsh realities of life in Vancouver Canada force Shen to take drastic action if he is ever to see his dreams fulfilled.

I found this musical to be highly relevant to the history of the Chinese Canadian community. This production is being shown in Vancouver at the Roundhouse and then touring to Richmond’s Gateway theatre and Victoria’s Metro Studio Theatre.

My marketing duties at VACT involve helping to find advertisers for the Victoria show and organizing school groups for the Victoria show. It involves a lot of phoning, which I gained experience in from working at the UBC Call Center. I’ve already been successful in booking in a few advertisers for the Red Letters show program.

This volunteer position is quite different than the role I’ve had working on Theatre at UBC productions, but allows me to understand the administrative side to theatre, including marketing. I’ve also been able to meet a lot of new people including other UBC students, local working professionals in the industry, other actors/actresses and the opportunity to work directly with the producer of the show, Joyce Lam – who is also VACT’s Artistic Producer, President and Founder.

Please come out to watch Red Letters and see what my hard work is about – you won’t be disappointed! Student and senior tickets are only $16 + HST and you can buy them online here: Red Letters – Tickets. The Vancouver run is November 26 to December 4 (Discount preview: November 25) and the Richmond show runs December 30 – January 8 (Discount preview: December 29). Find out more at

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